A Quality Meal on the Run

January 25th, 2012

Just because you are busy doesn’t mean you have to settle for take-out when it comes to dinner.  All it takes is a little planning and a well stocked pantry.

I feel like I am channeling The Pioneer Woman right now.  Her latest episode on The Food Network had to do with just this subject.  She has good reason to keep a stocked pantry after all.  If you lived on a cattle ranch in the middle of nowhere, you would do the same.  But even if you have a Whole Foods and a Costco in the next block, having a pantry stocked with quality ingredients is worth your while.

My nearest Costco is 50 miles away.  My friend Maxine and I just made a run there earlier this week.  I came home with a huge hunk of Parmigiano Reggiano at half the price of what is available in my local store.  I found a 12 ounce package of Speck, that wonderful smoked prosciutto from Italy that is so good in Spaghetti Carbonara.  It will keep well in the refrigerator for months.  From Whole Foods I buy artisanal dried pastas and quality jarred marinara sauce.  I also like to keep jarred pesto sauce and sweet pickled peppers.  The pesto sauce adds a bright note to pasta dishes and the pickled peppers look pretty and add a piquant flavor to many dishes.  See how Sam of My Carolina Kitchen used them in this recipe.  Her Chicken Scarpariello is outstanding.

I was running late yesterday.  Knowing what I had in the pantry, I stopped at the grocery store and picked up some hot chicken sausage and breezed through the express lane.  Dinner was on the table within the hour and it was a very good meal.  What went into it made all of the difference.


1 lb good quality hot or mild chicken sausages, removed from casings
1 red or green bell pepper, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup good quality marinara sauce
3 heaping tablespoons pesto sauce
8 to 10 pickled small sweet peppers, halved
1 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano, more for garnishing

8 ounces Organic Strozzapreti pasta or penne pasta of your choice
Salt to taste
1/2 cup pasta water

In a large skillet over medium high heat saute chicken sausage, breaking up big pieces.  Add peppers, onion and garlic and saute until peppers have softened.  Add wine to skillet and scrape pan to loosen the browned bits.  Add marinara sauce, pesto and pickled peppers to dish.  Reduce heat to low and simmer while you cook the pasta.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add at least a tablespoon of salt.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  When done, scope out some of the pasta water and then drain the pasta.  Add it to the skillet with the sauce.  Add the shredded Parmigiano and stir to combine.  Add some pasta water if the mixture is dry.  Turn pasta onto a serving plate and serve garnished with more cheese.

Printable recipe

12 responses to “A Quality Meal on the Run”

  1. That looks wonderful Penny! I love going to the Costco in Greenville to stock up on cheeses..

  2. Lynda says:

    This dish looks so good! Tou are so right; having a well stocked pantry is the key to having a good meal on the tables. Very well done.

  3. Big Dude says:

    This looks outstanding Penny, and being quick is a real bonus. Being about 20 miles from a big store, we keep a pretty well stocked pantry/fridge/freezer ourselves. There is a Costco and perhaps Whole Foods coming to Knoxville and we’re looking forward to trying them out.

  4. bellini says:

    Coming up with meals where we have to use our imagination and use what we have in our cupboard is a challenge which you have mastered.

  5. Penny, this a a wonderful go to meal and you are so right about keeping some basic staples in the pantry. sometimes I just don’t feel like making or eating what I had planned for that evening, so a meal like this is always a winner!

  6. Kate says:

    Looks delicious, Penny. While my Costco isn’t that many miles away, I do have a 20 minute drive to the nearest store. I can usually find something in the pantry…when I feel creative! Your meal would be a hit here!

  7. Rita says:

    Isn’t their Parmesan the best; I grate it and seal it in jars with my Food Saver and keeps forever. What a great recipe; my kind of food; not a big fan of take out.
    Wish we had your Food Channel; ours in Canada is sure Pathetic these days.

  8. Looks delicious! I should try that idea you have of mixing regular sauce with some pesto sauce! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Mary says:

    What a fabulous pasta, Penny. I love the cheeses they sell at Costso. We unfortunately do not have a Whole Foods store in our area. Fortunately, we have a small Italian market near the university so I am able to get decent pasta. Have a great weekend. Blessings…Mary

  10. Robin Sue says:

    Pasta does make the best quick meal, and a good way to sneak in extra protein and veggies in my kids. Penny your trip to France will be wonderful. Yes packing light is so nice, and be sure to get some good walking shoes. We were so relaxed on our trip because their was not much to worry about as to luggage. That is great that you can do laundry at your rentals. The one night we did do laundry properly in a machine, was night night of the fire and all our clothes “died” of smoke inhalation. We ended up washing them all over again the next day in a sink in the hotel. But we did not have much so it went quickly. I can’t wait to hear more details about the upcoming trip.

  11. nanadarla says:

    Looks delicioso-we are blessed to have a Whole Foods 3 miles away and a Costco 7 miles away. Wish I had time to cook more!

  12. Wow, that dish looks fantastic Penny. Thanks for the mention on the sausage dish. A well stock pantry is essential. I can just assume I have the basics and that is very reassuring when you’re shopping in a hurry.

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